Spring Dusk

New moon
Spring dusk.

I walk through the streets of my darkening town
catching glimpses of other lives
through golden windows.

A man bends over a stove

A kettle boils, someone is ironing

A woman sits
knitting the strands of an unravelling life
back together.

An empty booklined room
waits to be a backdrop
for yet another Zoom call.

All is quiet
All is still
Another day draws to a close.

– Melinda Schwakhofer. 2021

Summer’s house

Summer has built her house around me
with green fern walls
and a sky roof woven
from criss-crossed bird flight.
– Melinda Schwakhofer

Slow down

My life in the time of Coronavirus is moving to a different rhythm.   I’ve always loved being at home, so not much has changed there.   The village where I live has a chemist, butcher, greengrocer, newsagent and shop.  There is enough of everything we need and our community is looking out for one another.

When lockdown came to the UK two weeks ago, I made a long list of household tasks and have been thinking about all of the artistic projects that I now have time for.    But some, or many, days it is all I can do to get up and get through the day.  I’ve been relishing my daily late afternoon naps more than ever.  Sleeping pretty well through the night, but having some disturbing dreams.

I’m finding it really hard to concentrate and flit from one activity to another more than usual.  My emotions run the gamut from fear and despair to feeling calm and ‘okay’, often a few times in a day,  This is all a normal response to radically different times.

Rather than focussing on ‘after this is over’, I’m focussing on how it is now.  What can I do now in the new shape that my life has become?

I’m working from home at my ‘bread and butter’ job two days a week.  Continuing to meet my Community Artwork colleagues, via Zoom,  We are developing an online Craftfulness in Quarantine group.  I’m working on another creative project in response to Mayflower 400.  Sometimes it is too much to engage with these pieces of work, but we are all able to express how we’re feeling and listen to one another.  It is such a different way of working together and all of the work is evolving in response to hugely changed circumstances.  I am finding that flexibility, responsiveness and suppleness are key.

All of that and sometimes, just slowing down.

Miss Pandemic 2020

You do not have to be productive.
You are not a dairy cow or a field of wheat.
Nothing will grind to a halt
if you do not take up the ukulele,
learn Spanish, start to crochet, master Pilates.

This is not a competition,
there will be no ‘Miss Pandemic 2020’
you cannot get a sash out of this,
you cannot win a crisis,

only hold each second like you
might hold a hand and think what can I do with you?
And you and you? Before long
you will have collected a minute.

Minute collecting is my new hobby.
I’m practising a lot.  I’m trying to do it as carefully
and slowly as possible and when I cry
I use the minutes I’ve collected to keep myself up.

I look around those minutes and see
what lives there and then I start again.
Everything has changed.  It is okay for this
not to feel like a holiday.  It’s not a holiday.

We are scared of air.  I tried to do yoga yesterday
but instead swore at the screen
and had a coffee and that’s okay.

-Erin Bolens

Will you walk into my parlour?

This evening I watched a delicate aerial pas a deux, a dance of life and death outside my window.

The poem is a cautionary tale against those who use flattery and charm to disguise their true evil intentions.

The Spider and the Fly

Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”
Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, ” Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I ‘ve always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice;
I’m sure you’re very welcome — will you please to take a slice?”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”

“Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I’ve a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you ‘re pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I’ll call another day.”

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple — there’s a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!”

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue —
Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour — but she ne’er came out again!

And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

– Mary Howitt, 1829